Exclusive Interview with Silkscreening Maestros: The Little Friends of Printmaking

Juxtapoz // Friday, 24 Jul 2009
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The Little Friends of Printmaking are a husband-and-wife team of silkscreen artists living and working in Madison, Wisconsin. Emerging onto a saturated art scene in early 2003, The Little Friends quickly established themselves as crucial new talent and have been kicking ass ever since.

 

The LFOP layer vibrant colors and images in their prints to create playful, interactive works that draw you into their quirky world.  Read a Juxtapoz exclusive interview with the duo below.

Interview by Jamie Kim

 

First off. Your guys' online persona and play on words rocks! Any particular reason in making all things humorous and fun?

 

We’re just showing off. We like to put ourselves and our personalities into everything we do. No reason, really, I guess we’re just full of ourselves. But it’s been very nice because we’ve attracted people who have the same sense of humor. We never have to worry when we make a new print, that it’s too niche or weird, because we’ve found our people and they get it.

I'm sure you get this a lot as an artistic duo and marital couple, but is it difficult separating work time and relationship time? 

 

No, because we have to work all the time anyway, day and night. Might as well do it together. It feels normal to us now.

 

If you both weren't full-time artists and designers, what do you see yourselves doing? 

 

Melissa wants to teach. I would prefer to be an independently wealthy layabout.

When did you decide to create art under the umbrella name of The Little Friends of Printmaking? Why not JW and Melissa?

Working under your own name is great, if you happen to have a really weird name. But we want total Google supremacy. It also made us seem bigger and more impressive (at least when we were starting out). There could have been twenty of us. As far as anyone knew, we were an unstoppable force, instead of two very tired people.

 

Do either of you do individual projects, even if it's just for kicks? 

We don’t make that kind of distinction. It’s all Little Friends work. There’s nothing holding us back from making the work that we want.

Your work is so imaginative; the characters are definitely in a different reality and the colors are eye-candy with its vibrancy and contrast. Where do your ideas come from? What inspires you both? 

 

Animals and toys and cartoons. Pretty much what you would expect. Your results may vary.

 

How would you guys describe your creative process? 

 

We agonize over the concept and pace around. We stay indoors and hover around in the studio needlessly, punishing ourselves for not already having the idea. Then we get an idea and everything else becomes exceedingly easy (by comparison). We stay up until all hours of the night. We order in. The work gets done and then maybe there’s printing to do. Otherwise, we go to bed.

 

If you could mesh skills and collaborate with any artist--dead or alive--who would it be and why? 

We’d love to work with Arthur Russell and make animations to go along with his music. We’d need someone brilliant like Chuck Jones or Norman MacLaren to help out with the animation bit too. Or both of them (why not, this is our fantasy). And then Busby Berkeley comes and the walls split apart, revealing a giant set where we all do a choreographed rhythmic dance routine together.

What's next for LFOP? Any new projects we should be watching out for?

 

We just sent off some paintings, ahem, “paintings,” to Ace Hotel New York. We don’t know where they’ll be hung, so you should probably sleep in all of the rooms until you find them. The new series of BAD VIBES prints comes out this summer, so start counting your pennies and clearing wall space.

Lastly, your Web site is still in the works. How can visitors keep in touch with your latest news?

 

What, our bare-bones site that we slapped together in 2004 isn’t good enough for you?! At least we update the store! Count your blessings. We’ll probably have a new Little Friends site sometime this summer. We’ll try to take better care of this one, we promise. Until then, you can still sign up for our newsletter, Little Friends of the Little Friends, several thousand strong and counting.

Can’t get enough? Stay tuned for our Back Talk feature on Little Friends of Printmaking for more behind the scenes coverage of the artistic duo.

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